In today’s parable Jesus tells his disciples the story of a landowner and the workers he hires. But as we know, the symbolism of a parable stands for something else. The landowner represents God, we are the workers, and the vineyard is the world. What’s the work and customary wage? Matthew tells us in the parable of the Last Judgment. The Son of Man will welcome into the kingdom those who served the neediest: the hungry, the poor, the ill, the imprisoned. This is the work of the vineyard and the usual wage is eternal life.
Because our merciful God will reward even those who worked very little, we are not doomed by our previous inaction. There is always hope. And because the wage is the same for all, there is no special place in heaven, no extra amount of bliss, no additional access to God’s presence among all those whom God has chosen to save. Let us not judge ourselves to be superior because we seem to have done more for a longer period of time.
The resentful workers who worked all day grumbled because they would not accept generosity favored over fairness. Moreover, the landowner teased the ones who worked all day by paying the last ones first, raising expectations for the hardest workers. But for God, generosity and mercy are more important than fairness. As Isaiah said in our first reading, God’s ways are so above our ways that we cannot possibly fully understand them.
Love, Peace, Joy,